Innovator Profile: Julien F. Thomas

Kate Affleck
Volunteer Outreach Coordinator, SFU Public Square

Innovator Profiles highlight extraordinary community members that are making a difference.

Julien F. Thomas is a recent SFU graduate and a Vancouver-based social artist who has a unique ability for transforming abstract ideas into interactive public projects. 

Julien F. Thomas’s early exposure to meaningful community initiatives was through his role in the Environment Committee at Langara College. The Environment Committee hosts a variety of public events that promote environmental awareness and nature stewardship. Through his role on the committee Julien developed skills in project planning and implementation. It was there that Julien learned the magic that can take place when pressing issues are examined through a creative lens, the transformative impact that talented facilitators can have on an audience, and the effects that engaging activities have on promoting positive change.

Following his role in the Environment Committee, Julien went on to complete the Undergraduate Semester in Dialogue at SFU, and he has since created a variety of meaningful public projects and social art initiatives. Two well-known, ongoing projects are Late Nite Art—an explorative evening of art and food that is open to the public—and a city roundabout on 10th and St. George that Julien converted into a community gathering place. Julien’s projects are intended to create a safe and inspiring environment for Vancouverites to explore different ways of interacting in our city.

Julien’s current project is a mobile park called "Park a Park." This initiative includes a large up-cycled dumpster that has been turned into a public park. The low walls of the park are lined with benches. Two tables and plants create an aesthetically pleasing and welcoming space for people to gather. The park is attached to a trailer hitch and can be moved from different locations around the city. The unexpected public space offers an exciting and unconventional environment to interact with people and generate new ideas. There is something about sitting in an up-cycled dumpster and talking to people that naturally leads to creative and alternative conversations. The mobile park’s first location this summer was at 1st and Commercial and it has since moved to Yaletown.

Julien’s projects have had a positive public response, which demonstrates the growing appetite for this type of community engagement in Vancouver. Julien invites you to utilize these spaces: sign up for an evening of Late Nite Art, enjoy a Sunday coffee in the roundabout on 10th and St. George, and participate in a dynamic conversation in the Park a Park!